A Call to Action
Updated: Mar 29
by: Jared Price
The ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has reached to the farthest ends of the earth and will only continue to grow. The goal of this ministry when it was founded was to give high caliber athletes and sports icons a chance to use their platform to spread the word of Jesus Christ. It is certainly doing that and much more.
According to FCA.org, Don McClanen was the original founder of the original FCA ministry. Born Feb. 3, 1925, McClanen was a young athlete and coach in the ’40s and ’50s and wondered why professional athletes endorsed products like shaving cream and cigarettes, but not a Christian lifestyle. That insight became the backbone for one of the largest sports ministries in the world that seeks to serve coaches and athletes, all while bringing glory to Jesus Christ.
You can certainly still see that today, you can turn on any television channel on your television and see an athlete promoting a brand or food or clothing line, etc. But, thanks to the founding of FCA and the growth of that ministry you will just as many athletes promoting and speaking on the life and work of Jesus Christ.
McClanen began posting his own Bible-related articles in the locker room and praying before his games but began thinking of a way for well-known Christian athletes to advertise their faith on television and in magazines the way they advertised other household products. But McClanen didn’t quite know where to start.
After seven years of research and ideas, McClanen finally officially founded the FCA and held its first conference in 1956 and to this day, McClanen’s legacy has immensely far-reaching effects. And thanks to his vision and commitment to God’s will for his life, millions have been changed for the better through their love of sports. This ministry has become one of the largest Christian ministries in the world and certainly didn’t stop before it got to Choctaw, Oklahoma. This is largely thanks to Walt Springfield.
Walt Springfield (pictured below, top right) is a long-time member of First Baptist Church-Choctaw, a retired coach and educator and is the founder of the FCA at Choctaw High School. Walt spent 33 years at Choctaw High School serving in many different roles such as teaching, coaching and even a time in the counseling department, but he believes his biggest influence was the founding and facilitating of the FCA ministry.
“When we joined FBC Choctaw in 1969, one of my students came through the line to welcome us and said, 'I didn’t know you were a Christian.' I will never forget those words. I had taught this young man for nine months. Through this experience, God convicted me of a need to do something that would truly make a difference in the lives of others. That is when I was led to start the FCA at Choctaw High School. I didn’t know too much about what I was doing but got advice from FCA leaders in the state. We started with male athletes. I couldn’t believe how excited they were to be a part of something like this. It wasn’t long until they took the lead and I became a coach facilitator.”
“The Youth for Christ organization was an outgrowth of FCA because girls wanted to be involved. Because of their excitement, we had the support of FBCC plus other churches in the area. We were able to lead out in a youth revival that was held on the football field at Choctaw High School and was attended by approximately 1500. This was in the summer of 1971. We brought in a well-known evangelist, James Robinson, and many decisions were made for Christ. Many of the young men that I worked with in FCA are now involved in church work, coaching, teaching and are community leaders.
In Walt’s founding of the FCA, he served the great commission exactly as it was designed and this can serve as an example and motivation to anyone trying to serve and minister in any way. Walt felt he could be doing more to bring glory to Jesus Christ and he felt God’s conviction and acted on it immediately. Through his obedience, numerous students came to know the Lord and the culture of the school was affected drastically. To this day his ministry lives on proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. It says in The Great Commission, in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Walt lives this verse in his daily life and so can we as Christians. We need to be recognizing the convictions God is putting on our hearts and be open to accepting what he has for us, just as Walt did. If you question if it will be worth it or not, look at how successful the FCA ministry at Choctaw has been over the years, all on account of being open to acting on God’s convictions.